Seahorses: World’s Most Romantic Species

Image: Joanne Merriam

Two Potbelly seahorses holding tails at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

If you need inspiration this Valentine’s Day, look no further. Seahorses can teach humans many a lesson when it comes to courtship. They hold hands (uh, tails), change colours, swim snout-to-snout, and whirl around in unison for days before engaging in a “true courtship dance” that lasts about eight hours. What’s more, when one thing finally leads to another, it is the male of the species that becomes pregnant and carries the offspring.

Image: Clark Anderson

Bright yellow seahorse found in the Turneffe Islands, Belize

Why seahorses spend so much time courting might shed light on certain, ahem, bigger species’ courtship behaviors too: courting is a form of synchronizing of the seahorses’ movements so that both are prepared when the big day comes. This ‘big day’ is when the female is ready to deposit her eggs in the male’s brood pouch – which he has flashed before her during courtship to prove it’s empty, as if to say “no eggs here!”